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    D.H. Lawrence

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    Service of all the Dead

      Between the avenues of cypresses,
      All in their scarlet cloaks, and surplices
      Of linen, go the chaunting choristers,
      The priests in gold and black, the villagers.

      And all along the path to the cemetery
      The round, dark heads of men crowd silently
      And black-scarved faces of women-folk, wistfully
      Watch at the banner of death, and the mystery.

      And at the foot of a grave a father stands
      With sunken head, and forgotten, folded hands;
      And at the foot of a grave a soman kneels
      With pale shut face, and neither hears not feels

      The coming of the chaunting choristers
      Between the avenues of cypresses,
      The silence of the many villagers,
      The candle-flames beside the surplices.


    Meeting among the Mountains

    The little pansies by the road have turned
    Away their purple faces and their gold,
    And evening has taken all the bees from the thyme,
    And all the scent is shed away by the cold.

    Against the hard and pale blue evening sky
    The mountain's new-dropped summer snow is clear
    Glistening in steadfast stillness: like transcendent
    Clean pain sending on us a chill down here.

    Chirst on the Cross! -- his beautiful young man's body
    Has fallen dead upon the nails, and hangs
    White and loose at last, with all the pain
    Drawn on his mouth, eyes broken at last by his pangs.

    And slowly down the mountain road, belated,
    A bullock wagon comes; so I am ashamed
    To gaze any more at the Christ, whom the mountain snows
    Whitely confront; I wait on the grass, am lamed.

    The breath of the bullock stains the hard, chill air,
    The band is across its brow, and it scarcely seems
    To draw the load, so still and slow it moves,
    While the driver on the shaft sits crouched in dreams.

    Surely about his sunburnt face is something
    That vexes me with wonder. He sits so still
    Here among all this silence, crouching forward,
    Dreaming and letting the bullock take its will.

    I stand aside on the grass to let them go;
    -- And Christ, I have met his accusing eyes again,
    The brown eyes black with misery and hate, that look
    Full in my own, and the torment starts again.

    One moment the hate leaps at me standing there,
    One moment I see the stillness of agony,
    Something frozen in the silence that dare not be
    Loosed, one moment the darkness frightens me.

    Then among the averted pansies, beneath the high
    White peaks of snow, at the foot of the sunken Christ
    I stand in a chill of anguish, trying to say
    The joy I bought was not too highly priced.

    But he has gone, motionless, hating me,
    Living as the mountains do, because they are strong,
    With a pale, dead Christ on the crucifix of his heart,
    And breathing the frozen memory of his wrong.

    Still in his nostrils the frozen breath of despair,
    And heart like a cross that bears dead agony
    Of naked love, clenched in his fists the shame,
    And in his belly the smouldering hate of me.

    And I, as I stand in the cold, averted flowers,
    Feel the shame-wounds in his hands pierce through my own,
    And breathe despair that turns my lungs to stone
    And know the dead Christ weighing on my bone.


Cruelty and Love

What large, dark hands are those at the window
Lifted, grasping in the yellow light
Which makes its way through the curtain web
    At my heart to-night?

Ah, only the leaves! So leave me at rest,
In the west I see a redness come
Over the evening's burning breast --
    For now the pain is numb.

    The woodbine creeps abroad
    Calling low to her lover:
The sunlit flirt who all the day
Has poised above her lips in play
And stolen kisses, shallow and gay
Of dalliance, now has gone away
-- She woos the moth with her sweet, low word,
    And when above her his broad wings hover
    Then her bright breast she will uncover
    And yeild her honey-drop to her lover.

    Into the yellow, evening glow
    Saunters a man from the farm below,
    Leans, and looks in at the low-built shed
    Where hangs the swallow's marriage bed.
The bird lies warm against the wall.
She glances quick her startled eyes
Towards him, then she turns away
Her small head, making warm display
Of red upon the throat. Her terrors sway
Her out of the nest's warm, busy ball,
Whose plaintive cries start up as she flies
In one blue stoop from out the sties
Into the evening's empty hall.

    Oh, water-hen, beside the rushes
    Hide your quaint, unfading blushes,
    Still your quick tail, and lie as dead,
    Till the distance covers his dangerous tread.

The rabbit presses back her ears,
Turns back her liquid, anguished eyes
And crouches low: then with wild spring
Spurts from the terror of the oncoming
To be choked back, the wire ring
Her frantic effort throttling:
Piteous brown ball of quivering fears!

Ah soon in his large, hard hands she dies,
And swings all loose to the swing of his walk.
Yet calm and kindly are his eyes
And ready to open in brown surprise
Should I not answer to his talk
Or should he my tears surmise.

I hear his hand on the latch, and rise from my chair
Watching the door open: he flashes bare
His strong teeth in a smile, and flashes his eyes
In a smile like triumph upon me; then careless-wise
He flihgs the rabbit soft on the table board
And comes towards me: ah, the uplifted sword
Of his hand against my bosom, and oh, the broad
Blade of his hand that raises my face to applaud
His coming: he raises up my face to him
And caresses my mouth with his fingers, smelling grim
Of the rabbit's fur! God, I am caught in a snare!
I know not what fine wire is round my throat,
I only know I let him finger there
My pulse of life, letting him nose like a stoat
Who sniffs with joy before he drinks the blood:
And down his mouth comes to my mouth, and down
His dark bright eyes descend like a fiery hood
Upon my mind: his mouth meets mine, and a flood
Of sweet fire sweeps across me, so I drown
Within him, die, and find death good.


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